Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
Stuart Littlewood is a British writer and photographer. He is the co-author of the book "Radio Free Palestine" in which he has elaborately described the plight of the Palestinian nation under the Israeli occupation. Littlewood's articles on the cause of the Palestinian nation have been published on a variety of websites, newspapers and online magazines including Intifada Palestine, Veterans Today, Palestine Chronicle, Dissident Voice, Ramallah Online and Voltaire Net. In a 2009 interview with Media Review, Littlewood described his contributions to raising the public awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ignorance of the British people concerning the suffering of the Palestinian nation.
Stuart joined me in an in-depth interview to discuss the ongoing anguish of the people of Palestine, the situation of Gaza Strip and West Bank, the influence of Israeli lobby over the mass media in the West and the international isolation of Iran due to its unconditional support for the Palestinian people.
Kourosh Ziabari: Zionists have always claimed that the Land of Israel historically belongs to them and this verdict is clearly emphasized in the Hebrew Bible. They say that according to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham's grandson. So, what's your response to them? Do they have the right to cite claims over what is called the Land of Israel? Is there any historical evidence to demonstrate that Palestinians are the true possessors of this land?
Stuart Littlewood: Using mythical scripture to make out that God is a racist who favors one tribe above all others, is bizarre to say the least. Some Zionists don't believe it, so why should anyone else? In a booklet called "Zionism: A Jewish Communal Response" recently launched by The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Rabbi Tony Bayfield writes: "I am horrified by some strands of Zionism which treat the Bible as an exclusive title deed written by God. I do not regard the Torah as an extra-historical document written by the Divine hand… It is not Judaism's title deed to the land."
But it provides cover for the Zionists' criminal scheme to dispossess the Palestinians-Arabs and Christians – so its importance is pumped up to bursting point. But why any non-Jews should take it seriously is beyond me.
The Jews were expelled by the Roman occupation. These days the right of return must be exercised as soon as the reason for expulsion, for example, foreign occupation, ceases. The Jews had their chance when the Roman Empire collapsed. They didn't take it. It's ridiculous to lay claim 16 centuries later at gun-point and eject the people whose homeland it now is. Most of today's Jews, I'm told, have no ancestral links to the Holy Land anyway.
The JerusalemDeclaration of 2006 by the Latin Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches sums it up for me: "We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation… We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war…"
As for Jerusalem itself, it was already 2000 years old and belonged to the Canaanites when King David captured it. Historians say that before the present-day conflict the Jews controlled Jerusalem for some 500 years, whereas it was subsequently ruled by Muslims for more than twice that long. And for nearly 90 years it was a Christian kingdom. Lots of people, besides the Jews, conquered Jerusalem, so there are many competing claims, which is probably why the UN declared it should be independently administered as an international city.
Matters weren't helped when Obama opened his big mouth and declared to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that Jerusalem "will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided". Realizing it was a stupid thing to say, he added: "Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations… And I think that it is smart for us to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem, but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city." A legitimate claim? As everyone knows, the Old City officially belongs to Palestinian East Jerusalem.
I don't think it's a question of the Palestinians proving ownership, though I imagine most families can produce Ottoman-era land deeds – if the Israelis haven't confiscated and forged them.
Hamas chief Khalid Misha'al has said: "We shall never recognize the right of any power to rob us of our land and deny us our national rights. We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem." That doesn't sound unreasonable.
KZ: As you mentioned in one of your recent articles, the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has categorically condemned the atrocities committed by the regime of Moammar Gaddafi and the mass killing of Libyan citizens by his mercenaries. The UK government revoked Gaddafi's and his family members' political immunity in an action aimed at threatening the interests of the Libyan dictator worldwide; however, we haven't seen any action against or condemnation of the brutal massacre of the defenseless Palestinians by the Israeli regime in the December 2008 and January 2009. What does this exercise of double standards imply? Is it possible to justify it?
SL: It's no use looking to the British government for fair play. The political scene here is heavily infiltrated by the pro-Israel lobby, and money talks. The Friends of Israel movement claims 80 per cent of Conservative Party MPs including of course its leader, David Cameron. Membership, I hear, is a necessary stepping stone to high office. Cameron calls himself a Zionist and our foreign secretary, William Hague, has been a Friend of Israel since his schooldays. His side-kick, Liam Fox, the defense secretary, thinks that "we must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel's enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided". The minister for Middle East affairs was an officer of Conservative Friends of Israel. It's all sewn up.
David Cameron recently told Jewish dinner guests: "With me you have a prime minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible… I will always be a strong defender of the Jewish people. I will always be an advocate for the State of Israel." Cameron, and Brown and Blair before him, are patrons of the Jewish National Fund. Quite simply, Israel is never punished. It is allowed to get away scot-free.
A body called the Committee on Standards in Public Life is supposed to call to account MPs who place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties, but it too has been infiltrated.
It's interesting to see how the British Government rushed to press for a UN mandate to take whatever steps might be necessary to protect Libyan civilians from their bully-boy dictator and wasted no time establishing a no-fly zone and annihilating Qaddafi's air defenses. But it stood idly by and watched the Israeli slaughter of Gazan civilians and showed no sign of wanting it stopped.
Headlines this week quoted Hague saying, "There can be no hiding place for tyrants", referring to Qaddafi, but he's leading the rush to change our Universal Jurisdiction laws to protect Israel's war crimes suspects from arrest. These double standards are the hallmark of a corrupted political class. It can never be justified, but for the moment we're stuck with these people.
Hague condemned the recent Jerusalem bomb blast as "a callous and disgusting act of terrorism" but he's careful not to condemn the almost daily air-strikes by Israel on Gaza's civilians. I'm reading a report now on just one day's horror inflicted by the Zionist military on the Occupied Territories that says:
24 hours to 8 am, 23 March 2011
3 air strikes – 7 attacks – 28 raids including home invasions – 8 dead – 15 injured – 1 curfew – 15 taken prisoner – 14 detained – 79 restrictions of movement
Child, teenager and 3 adults killed in Israeli shelling – homes damaged
Injury and 4 deaths in Israeli air strikes
Agricultural sabotage: farms and homes under Israeli fire in 3 Gaza areas – crops bulldozed
Israeli Navy opens fire on Palestinian fishing boats
Zionist mob smashes on-duty ambulance windscreen
Zionist militants cut down Palestinian olive trees
Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 8 towns and villages
[Source of statistics: Palestinian Monitoring Group]
The Fourth Geneva Convention puts Contracting Parties under a solemn obligation to act. They don't seem to have grasped that.
KZ: It's widely believed that the Zionist lobby has an enormous influence over the mass media in the U.S. and European countries. AIPAC and other influential Zionist circles usually block the publication of materials critical of Israel and its policies, and vilify as anti-Semitist whoever dares question the barbaric conducts of this illegitimate regime. What's your idea about the dominance of Zionist lobby over the mainstream media in the West?
SL: You are right to focus on this question. The Zionists wield their influence by winning the ongoing propaganda war. The Arabs, after being on the losing end for decades, still haven't learned how to fight it and don't show any sign of wishing to. I have put forward proposals for media skills training but it's hopeless. Even allowing for the PA being dominated by Israel's stooges their failure to address this is not only ignorant but a major strategic blunder.
Last year The Israel Project, a US media advocacy group, produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement maintain its control over the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are not only necessary but conform to "shared values" between Israel and the civilized West.
It's a clever document. It teaches how to 'justify' the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and give it a sweeter smell. It is designed to have us gullible Americans and Europeans believing that we actually share values with the psychopaths of Israel's racist regime and that their abominable behavior deserves our support.
The strategy from the start is to isolate Hamas and rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights…. It drums into them nonsense like, "The language of Israel is the language of America: 'democracy,' 'freedom,' 'security,' and 'peace.' These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social, and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American."
Most mainstream media in the UK are under pro-Israel influence, if not Zionist ownership. The
Then there's the over-representation of Jews in Parliament. If Muslims were over-represented to the same extent they'd have 200 MPs. And there'd be a big fuss.
These are not the only issues. It has to be admitted that Israel's propaganda people do a good job of cultivating the news media, providing timely briefings and making sure spokesmen with good English are available whenever needed. The Palestinians on the other hand are lazy, disorganised and their embassy here in London is worse than useless. They fail to take media relations seriously so they and their countrymen pay a heavy price.
Nor is it enough to be the crushed victim. Having labels like "extremist", "militant" and "terrorist" pinned on them, no matter how unjustly, is deeply damaging. The Palestinians must shake off these slurs, but before they can do so Hamas must re-write its objectionable charter and 're-brand' itself.
Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers at Westminster and elsewhere. The definition they use describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly, and the whole situation needs reframing to reflect this.
The resistance movements have work to do on this. The propaganda battle can't be won without a properly planned communications strategy skillfully executed.
KZ: The 13 May 2010 incursion of IDF commandos into the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was followed by the astounding silence of the international community, United Nations and the United States. No credible investigation was carried out to shed a light on the atrocious attack of Israel on the international peace activists and Tel Aviv never heeded the call of Turkey to officially apologize for its criminal action against the peace activist. Let's imagine that a third country, for example Iran, had attacked the flotilla of Israeli activists in the international waters, killing 9 and injuring tens of others. What would the reaction of international community, UN and the U.S. have been? Would they assume the same passive stance and remain silent deafeningly?
SL: Former British MP George Galloway, a mainspring behind the Free Gaza movement, called the assault "a murderous act of piracy" on innocent humanitarian aid workers and demanded a wholesale review of the international community's relationship with "the criminal pirate state of Israel".
But Israel's Mark Regev told
As it turns out, the Israelis did themselves immense damage by attacking the Mavi. They were too stupid to understand how it would be seen as an 'own goal'.
It's funny how HMS Cumberland and York magically appeared in the Mediterranean when Hague or prime minister David Cameron snapped their fingers during the Libyan crisis. Where were these ships when British nationals on the Mavi Marmara and the Dignity and other vessels were being assaulted in international waters and terrorized by Israeli pirates, abducted and thrown in their stinking jails? Why weren't they bringing life-saving aid to innocent Palestinians after Israel's indiscriminate 'Cast Lead' blitzkrieg?
Our ships have been protecting victims of Qaddafi, and HMS York unloaded tons of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for the Benghazi Medical Centre. Israel is still bombing and strafing Palestinian civilians in Gaza with impunity on a daily basis, so when the Libyan crisis dies down I see no reason why York shouldn't be loaded up with more supplies and sail for Gaza, along with the rest of the NATO fleet, where the humanitarian crisis continues unabated.
On the Libya situation Hague has been sounding off with loud threats of retribution. "Crimes will not go unpunished and will not be forgotten; there will be a day of reckoning and the reach of international justice is long," he says.
Let's not imagine Iran attacking the humanitarian flotilla. If Britain and the so-called civilized countries of the West won't call Israel's bluff and break the blockade let's imagine Iran doing so.
KZ: In its resolutions, the United Nations Security Council has always called Israel the occupying power, implicitly attesting to the occupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli regime; however, no practical steps were ever taken to end the occupation of Palestinian lands by Tel Aviv. Do you know of any effective solution to bring an end to this occupation and hold Israel accountable for the crimes it has committed against the Palestinian nation?
SL: Israel is violating over 30 Security Council resolutions that require action by it and it alone. If any other state in the world were to defy the will of the international community so persistently, it would be subjected to economic and/or military sanctions.
UN resolutions must be implemented and international law enforced. If the international community won't act to rein in the delinquent all hopes of global peace will remain in shreds. UN Security Council Resolution 242 (fully binding) affirms among other things the necessity for guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area. The blockade must be broken, if necessary by vessels with an armed escort.
The Israeli regime relies heavily on the EU for its exports and enjoys preferential treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement of 1995. An obvious part of the solution would be the suspension of this agreement. Its terms require compliance with the principles of the United Nations Charter placing emphasis on peace, security and regional co-operation, and on the need to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Mediterranean region and promote understanding and tolerance.
Article 2 says that "respect for human rights and democratic principle constitute an essential element of this agreement". Israel has never complied but continues to reap the benefits. In April 2002 the European parliament, with a large majority, requested the European Commission and the Council of Europe to suspend the agreement, without success. The EU has all the leverage needed but is afraid to use it.
We are maybe halfway through the process of educating and informing Western citizens. There will come a point, I feel sure, when civil societies will be savvi enough to clean up their Zionist-infested politics and force the necessary action. In the meantime the Palestinians need to be heard in Western Europe and the United States. A proper on-the-ball communications and media centre and a radio station should have been established years ago. Iran too needs to improve its image to counter the barrage of smears.
Israelis always trying to upgrade its image, but no amount of marketing gloss can hide the evil beneath.
KZ: What's in your view, the reason behind the unconditional support of Israel by the United States? Why does the White House endanger its interests to pay for the atrocities and brutalities of Tel Aviv? Why does it distort its global image in compensation for the suicidal mistakes of Israel?
SL: The ignorance of your average American citizen plus Jewish domination of major business, media and financial institutions and the whole political fabric.
Another reason why Americans are soft in the head about Israel is the Scofield Bible, which became the standard fodder of fervent Christians. Cyrus Scofield, a sleazy character and convicted criminal, was commissioned to re-write the King James Version of the Bible by inserting Zionist-friendly notes. The aim was to change the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist subculture within Christianity. The Oxford University Press used Scofield as the editor, and the Scofield Reference Bible, as it was called, has been a best-seller in America for over 90 years.
It introduced a new worship icon, the modern State of Israel, which did not exist at the time but was already on the drawing board of World Zionist movement.
KZ: A report which is attributed to
SL: Israel has an attitude problem. I suppose it might survive without US support if it mended its manners drastically. But I doubt if it will ever be able to throw off its pariah status or stop shooting itself in the foot. It will become isolated and slowly crumble. Thanks to its selfish fanaticism and unhinged leadership it will do a great deal of damage in the process.
Fortunately, a good many Jews across the world are not Zionists and are disgusted by Israel's conduct, and their number seems to be growing.
And the worldwide boycott and disinvestment movement is making good progress and the effect is hurting Tel Aviv.
So the tide is turning.
USgovernment aid to Israel runs at around $3 billion annually and Israel is not required to account for how it is spent. The money helps pay for Israel's costly occupation and the high-tech paraphernalia of military oppression. Most of it violates the US's own laws, but that doesn't seem to matter to the brainwashed Washington administration. Israel usually gets another $2 to 3 billion in indirect aid – military support, loan write-offs and special grants. The US has also been paying Egypt and Jordan to buy their co-operation with Israel.
If Americans wake up to what's going on and aid is withheld until Israel complied with UN resolutions and international law there would probably be peace. But hostilities would soon flare up again if aid resumed. The tap has to be turned off permanently.
KZ: Israel's illegal nuclear activities are almost known to everyone. Under the pretext of not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has deposited more than 200 atomic warheads in its arsenal and the Federation of American Scientists has admitted that Israel is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. However, in violation of the UNSC resolutions that demand Israel to bring its nuclear program under the safeguards of IAEA, Tel Aviv is secretly continuing to develop atomic bombs. How should this concern be tackled? Who is responsible for disarming Israel?
SL: The responsibility is America's, because it has encouraged Israel to duck its international obligations. In October 2009 the Washington Times ran a report, by Eli Lake, that Obama had agreed to keep Israel's nukes secret by reaffirming a decades-old understanding that allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections. Under this understanding the US has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.
Israelis never required to honor what it signs up to. Back in 1995 it agreed, with the other parties to the Barcelona Declaration, to "pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems" and "consider practical steps to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as excessive accumulation of conventional arms."
There has been no progress, either, on the Security Council's demand in resolution 487, passed in 1981, that "Israel urgently … place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards".
Considering the Zionist regime's notorious lack of restraint, it is obvious that Israel's 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose a massive threat not only to the Middle East but the rest of the world.
As you say, it is the only state in the region that possesses nuclear weapons (and probably the only one that possesses chemical and biological weapons) while not being a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Israel has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Why not? Because being a menace is necessary to its ambitions.
Israelis capable of wiping Iran, and every Arab state, off the map at the touch of a button. Its warheads can also be targeted on European cities and, some say, already are.
Despite all this, in the words of Israel's chief spin-doctor Mark Regev, "Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear program. And for good reason. Iran's President openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles… The Iranian nuclear program is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it's incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating."
Iran's nuclear facilities, including its uranium enrichment facilities, are under IAEA supervision. Strange, isn't it, that the West is putting such immense pressure on Iran about its nuclear activities, but not Israel.
KZ: As you may acknowledge, Iran is at the forefront of ideological battle with Israel. Tehran has already paid the price for its confrontation with Tel Aviv and championing the cause of the Palestinian people: diplomatic isolation and financial sanctions. What's your viewpoint regarding the role of Iran in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
SL: Here's what Israel's infamous propaganda handbook says: "The force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel."
That's the sort of poison being pumped out to demonize Iran. The point for the West to remember, I think, is that Iran as a member of the region is entitled to be involved in its affairs. The US, an outsider, isn't.
Back in the 1920s the US State Department described the oil deposits in the Middle East as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history". Since then, its designs on Iraq and Iran have been plain to see.
Nobody has forgotten how the US and Britain schemed to snuff out Dr. Mossadeq's first steps towards democracy in the 1950s and reinstated the hated Shah.
The West has betrayed the Palestinians for nearly 100 years and immediately strangled their fledgling democracy when they made an 'inconvenient' choice in the 2006 election.
Democracy is not what they want to see in the Middle East. It's too uncontrollable.
In the turmoil following Iran's presidential election, the country's Supreme Leader denounced Britain as the "most treacherous" of Iran's enemies. Western diplomats, he said, "are displaying their enmity against the Islamic state, and the most evil of them is the British government".
I seem to remember from my own business experience with Tehran that relations between Iran and Britain remained surprisingly good up to the Iran-Iraq war when the UK government pulled the plug on trade. "Her Majesty's Government does not encourage trade with, or investment in, Iran," says the government's trade website now. "Nor do we offer any commercial services for companies wanting to do business with Iran. We do not give financial support for trade promotion activities and we do not organize trade missions."
Turn to Israel and it says: "Israel is a remarkable success story for British exporters… Bilateral trade has consistently been in excess of £2 billion over the last 10 years and should reach £3 billion by 2015. Companies who dismiss Israel as too small without exploring its potential are overlooking a serious market of solid and regular opportunity. Israel can be seen as the land of opportunity especially in all high tech sectors." Words supplied by Tel Aviv's scriptwriters, I imagine.
Iran clearly needs more friends in the West. A good move would be to re-establish business links and forge new friendships regardless of silly ministerial hostility.